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8 millionth foreign visitor to Taiwan receives big rewards

TAIPEI -- Taiwan on Tuesday showered gifts on its 8 millionth foreign visitor for the year, a Japanese bride who is on her honeymoon with her husband.

Aya Omote, 32, was given NT$500,000 (US$16,650) worth of gifts that include round-trip airfare for tickets between Taiwan and any other Asian country, hotel accommodation, amusement park tickets and numerous souvenirs from Taiwan.

Omote and her new husband arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 1 p.m., bringing the country's annual foreign visitor number to a record 8 million on the last day of the year. Her husband said when he saw the fuss at the airport, he initially thought his wife had somehow broken the law.

A surprised Omote said she chose Taiwan because of the cuisine. The couple said they planned to visit night markets, as well as popular tourist attractions such as the National Palace Museum and the historic Jiufen Township.

Upon their return to Japan, Omote said, they will promote Taiwan as a travel destination. They also plan to visit Taiwan again, she added.

Taiwan recorded 7.3 million foreign visitors in 2012 and had projected 7.7 million for 2013, a target that was attained on Dec. 21.

The majority of foreign visitors to Taiwan this year have been from other Asian countries, according to the Tourism Bureau.

Visitor arrivals from South Korea in 2013 increased by an annual 30 percent, and from Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Malaysia by 15 percent each, the bureau said.

Taiwan's growing travel market generated an estimated NT$374.2 billion in foreign exchange over the past year, compared with NT$348.4 billion in 2012, the Tourism Bureau said.

The bureau said it will launch more customized and in-depth tour options in the future to improve the quality of travel in Taiwan.

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A newlywed Japanese tourist and her husband receive a check for NT$500,000 from the Tourism Bureau, at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, yesterday. The bride is the 8 millionth tourist to visit Taiwan this year. The couple departed from Tokyo on flight BR195 and arrived in Taoyuan at 12:43 p.m. (CNA)

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